Wednesday, January 18, 2006

WildBird's Birder of the Year

In each November/December issue, WildBird readers receive their ballots for the Birder of the Year contest. They then elect a peer to receive optics and a trip to a birding hotspot.

That's how Dick Lutz got to spend five days in Cape May, N.J., in September 2004 with, from left, Sheila Lego, Marleen Murgitroyde, and me (and my rubber duck, Park). He also got to bird with WildBird Advisory Board member Kevin Karlson and chat with Pete Dunne, another Advisory Board member (who wrote a must-see article in the soon-to-be-available March/April issue).

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The names on the ballots in the November/December issue are readers who responded to questions posed in The Lister's Forum and Birder's Back Yard departments in each issue. From those responses, the WildBird staff picks a Forum Birder and a Backyard Birder based on a nice writing style and the reader's contribution to the birding community and/or birds' welfare.

Psst... Anyone's eligible to become Forum Birder or Backyard Birder! If you haven't responded to the questions in the January/February issue, just turn to pages 25 and 31, and send an e-mail or a letter to the appropriate address before Jan. 30. You might be published in a national magazine and win cool stuff!

The Forum Birder and the Backyard Birder receive Bushnell 8x42 NatureView binoculars, certificates suitable for framing from WildBird and the chance to win more optics and a trip to a hotspot.

This year's destination is the lower Rio Grande Valley, as it was last year. This year's winner will receive round-trip airfare for two, a rental car, two-night accommodations at Alamo Inn in Alamo, two-night accommodations at Vieh's Bed & Breakfast in San Benito, a Bushnell Elite 8x43 binocular and an Elite spotting scope... and my delightful company ;)

Last February, we saw tons of rarities in south Texas during the Birder of the Year's visit. I'm keeping tabs on TexBirds to see what's going on this year.

Would you like to know who the 2005 Birder of the Year is? You'll see all the details in the March/April issue, available in a couple weeks!

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